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Health Highlights: Nov. 25, 2015

'Kissing Bug' Chagas Disease Cases in Five States: CDC Turing Won't Cut Price for Toxoplasmosis Drug

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

'Kissing Bug' Chagas Disease Cases in Five States: CDC

Cases of a rare parasitic infection called Chagas disease have been reported in Arkansas, Arizona, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Texas, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

The parasite is spread by an insect called the kissing bug and can cause long-term heart damage. The disease mainly occurs in rural Central and South America, but a rising number of cases in southern U.S. states has some experts concerned, ABC News reported.

Early symptoms of infection include fever, fatigue, headache, rash and body aches.

While Chagas disease can cause serious heart damage, most infected people don't have any symptoms, the CDC said. The agency estimates that about 300,000 people in the United States have the disease, ABC News reported.


Turing Won't Cut Price for Toxoplasmosis Drug

The list price of the drug Daraprim will not be reduced after all, Turing Pharmaceuticals said Tuesday.

However, the company said it would offer discounts of up to 50 percent to hospitals and implement other steps to help patients afford the medicine to treat a parasitic infection called taxoplasmosis, The New York Times reported.

The infection can cause severe brain damage in babies, AIDS patients and other people with weakened immune systems.

After it acquired the 62-year-old drug in August, Turing announced a nearly 50-fold increase in Daraprim's price, from $13.50 to $750. The move triggered outrage and the company pledged to reduce the price, The Times reported.

Tuesday's announcement was met with scorn.

"This is, as the saying goes, nothing more than lipstick on a pig," Tim Horn, HIV project director for the AIDS research and policy organization Treatment Action Group, said in an email to The Times.

Even with a 50 percent discount to hospitals, Turing is still pricing Daraprim "way above what the price of the medication should be," Dr. Carlos del Rio, an Emory University professor and chair of the HIV Medicine Association, told The Times.

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